Statement by Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Guang Cong, at the 20th RJMEC Plenary Meeting

9 Dec 2021

Statement by Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Guang Cong, at the 20th RJMEC Plenary Meeting

On behalf of Mr. Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, it is my pleasure to brief the last R-JMEC plenary of 2021.

As the year ends, the optimism generated by the establishment of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly in August and assurances around imminent progress on Chapter Two have been dampened by the lack of necessary follow-up actions. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize the positive developments since the last R-JMEC meeting. The ceasefire continues to largely hold. Nine of the ten state assemblies have been reconstituted with newly appointed members. Only Western Bahr el Ghazal remains to be re-established.

While the majority of state parliaments have been reconstituted, it is now time to operationalize them without delay and work on the extensive legislative agenda. The reconstituted TNLA needs to move forward by establishing the various specialized committees given their criticality to parliamentary proceedings. Parliament must expedite its pace of work in order to consider the extensive legislative agenda, especially on the legal framework to advance election preparation and constitution-making process. 

In line with our commitment to support an inclusive governance at the state level, UNMISS, in collaboration with our partners throughout the past year, facilitated governors’ forums in nine out of ten states, including forums for chief administrators in the two administrative areas. Due to ongoing flooding, the forum has been postponed in Unity state. These forums provided a platform for Governors and Deputy Governors of different parties to build trust and confidence, forge a common understanding of the priorities enshrined in the Revitalized Agreement and develop tailored strategic plans for their states. In November, these plans were presented at the National Governors’ Forum, which concluded with agreed resolutions and recommendations on peace and security, governance, the economy, and the provision of basic services.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There has been some positive development in terms of number of civilian casualties due to ongoigng localized violence, an overall decrease by 53% compared to 2020.  Even though this is a positive trend, we remain concerned about the subnational violence witnessed in some parts of the country, notably in Upper Nile, Unity, Jonglei, Warrap, Lakes, Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria. I would like to particularly underline that the security situation in Tonj North and Tonj East counties of Warrap State remained tense due to recent intercommunal conflict. The revenge attacks are causing untold suffering to women, children and other vulnerable people. As a result of violent clashes, hundreds of people were killed and wounded, and thousands are internally displaced. The ongoing sub-national violence requires that the state enhances its capacity to protect civilians and their properties as well as restore law and order as a matter of urgency.

The implementation of Chapter 2 of the Revitalized Agreement will enhance security and contribute to preventing sub-national violence. The unification of the forces is a complex process, yet it is the key to consolidating and sustaining peace. The lack of progress in the transitional security arrangements must be addressed. The implementation of the TSA is crucial to realizing other aspects of the Agreement, such as the electoral process at the end of the transitional period. Time is of the essence and completing the pre-transitional tasks is a matter of priority.

In this regard, we also welcome President Kiir’s call on the Sant Egidio Community to resume the Rome mediation with the non-signatories. The Parties should make every effort to engage in dialogue without preconditions and uphold their commitments to the ceasefire to foster trust. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The humanitarian situation remains alarming. Throughout 2021, people’s resilience has been tested by record levels of food insecurity, a third consecutive year of flooding, recurring violence, and subsequent displacement and protection issues, and impact of COVID-19, to name just a few. As of the end of November, 854,000 people were reported as affected in 33 of the 78 counties. Floods, the worst of its kind in six decades, continues to affect people in hotspot areas, such as in Bentiu, Unity State.

Since March 2021, there has been an increase in the number of incidents of violence by young men across South Sudan. Aid workers have been attacked, and assets looted in Greater Tonj and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, disrupting humanitarian operations and affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. Since May, more than one million dollars worth of humanitarian supplies and assets have been looted and destroyed during armed attacks in Gumuruk, which would have supported an estimated 130,000 people. A few days ago, another humanitarian aid worker was killed in Leer, Unity State.  We strongly condemn such actions and call on the Government to do more to protect humanitarian actors and supplies. The perpetrators of such acts must be brought to account.

Widespread flooding coupled with conflict and subsequent displacement as well as the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have deepened humanitarian needs across the country.  Of the US$1.7 billion requested in the 2021 South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, $1.12 billion or 67% has been received as of 29 November. The latest data of the International Organization for Migration indicated that an estimated 2 million people are internally displaced, up from 1.71 million people recorded in March. The increase is likely due to flooding and sub-national violence.

To conclude, as the region faces complex political and security challenges, it is important to ensure South Sudan remains stable. Now, more than ever, the parties in South Sudan, the region and guarantors to the R-ARCSS must stay the course in sustaining progress. I am convinced that working together, we can accelerate implementation and maximize our impact in achieving important benchmarks.

In order to finish this year on firm footing, the priorities in the coming weeks shoud be :

  • Progress on the Transitional Security Arrangements by finalizing a coherent command and control structure and the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces.
  • The expeditious formation of the specialized committees and the passing of enabling priority legislation by the reconstituted TNLA

I take this opportunity to wish you a peaceful Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Thank you!